U.S. Supreme Court ducks Yahoo-France dispute

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday chose not to intervene in a long-simmering dispute about whether a French censorship order can apply to Yahoo's U.S.-based Web site.

The justices, without comment, denied a request by French activist organizations to address the topic. (PDF)

In January, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Yahoo's case involving the online display of Nazi-related books, posts and memorabilia on grounds that it was premature to offer a definitive ruling.

Yahoo filed the suit in December 2000 in an effort to clear up whether a U.S. company was required to rework its Web site to comply with a French court order. In April of that year, the Paris-based International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) took the Web portal to court to stop sales of Nazi paraphernalia to French citizens on its auction site. French law prohibits the sale or exhibition of objects associated with racism.

A French court agreed with LICRA. It required Yahoo to make it "impossible" for French citizens to connect to a Yahoo Web site with messages relating to Nazi objects, or ones that displayed excerpts from Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," or messages that contested Nazi crimes.

The French groups had requested the Supreme Court to hear the case. The number is 05-1302.